Photographing Dubai / by Frank Da Silva

Dubai دبي‎‎
Location: 24°57′N 55°20′E — United Arab Emirates

Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. There’s a good reason why most of world’s best urban, architectural and time lapse photographers have either been to Dubai already or they are planning a visit. It is a cityscape photographer’s paradise that rivals New York, Shanghai, Tokyo or Hong Kong. The city looks like a giant set from a Sci-Fi movie with state-of-the-art 12 lanes highway grids and spaghetti like interchanges which take your breath away, a futuristic metro system, the world’s largest man-made islands and some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, including Burj Khalifa, the 828 meter (2,717 ft) which dominates them all. I recently visit Dubai for the first time and here are some of my tips on how to capture this city based on my experience as a first time visitor.

Cityscape architectural photography

For cityscapers, try visiting rooftop bars & restaurants such as the Level 43 Sky Lounge at the Sheraton Four Points, At The Top observatory at the Burj Khalifa or the Shangri-la Hotel Dubai. Please note that most places don’t allow tripods, so you will need to improvise with GorillaPods or clamps if you want to do long exposure photography.

The view from Level 43 Sky Lounge — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

The view from Level 43 Sky Lounge — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

Level 43 Sky Lounge

Four Points by Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai | @level43dubai #level43dubai

At the Top of the Burj Khalifa — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

At the Top of the Burj Khalifa — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

Burj Khalifa

1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai
@atthetopburjkhalifa #atthetop

The view from Shangri-la Hotel Dubai — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

The view from Shangri-la Hotel Dubai — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

Dubai Fog

Combining nature with architecture is one of the most exotic scenes you can photograph in Dubai where an entire city with the highest buildings in the world almost disappears under a thick cloud of fog. High humidity and falling temperatures cause the fog to roll in seasonally along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, usually between November and March. My advice is to scout for rooftops in the downtown or Dubai Marina area and to go above 75 floors if possible.

The view from JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

The view from JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

Ground level photography

Dubai Marina

In terms of locations for ground level cityscape photography, the Dubai Marina offers great views. Marina Walk is a great place to wonder with a 7 km long pedestrian walkway with cafés and restaurants along the waterfront, and boats moored up alongside where you will be able to capture some of Dubai’s newest and most fascinating skyscrapers and attractions such as the Cayan Tower by SOM (306.4 metre-tall/1,005 ft). Before I went to Dubai I’ve been told that security guards don’t usually like tripods but I didn’t have any issues and I visited both the downtown and marina areas at different times of the day.

Dubai Marina — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

Dubai Marina — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

Burj Al Arab
Architect: Tom Wright of WKK Architects.

The Burj al-Arab is the fourth tallest hotel in the world; however, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground. The 202 super luxurious suites inside are accessed from one of the tallest atriums in the world.

Burj Al Arab — Photo by ©  Frank Da Silva

Burj Al Arab — Photo by © Frank Da Silva

There’s just so much amazing architecture, motion, moving shadows, reflections and street scenes to shoot in Dubai. What are your tips for shooting this amazing city? Please share them in the comments below or let me know if you have any questions.

This post was first published on the 30th of January 2017 by Frank Da Silva.